Midi Z
Director Midi Z © Seashore Image Productions

The director Midi Z is the patron of La Fabrique Cinéma 2022

In the stories I tell, where even the protagonists are drug dealers, they remain above all ordinary people.

Both tender and uncompromising, the films of Taiwanese director Midi Z offer us a unique insight into the daily life of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia. Just like the man himself, patron of the 2022 edition of La Fabrique Cinéma, a programme designed by the Institut français, in close collaboration with the Cannes Festival, to offer tailor-made support for first or second film projects by filmmakers and producers from the Global South and emerging countries. Midi Z benefited from the support of La Fabrique Cinéma in 2012 for The Road to Mandalay

Updated on 16/05/2022

5 min

Midi Z was born in Myanmar. His father is a doctor and his mother a cook. Like many border workers, he and his family sometimes live by smuggling, regularly moving to Thailand or China as opportunities arise. It is this precarious way of life, which forces the most vulnerable workers to flirt with illegality, that provides the main subject of Midi Z's feature films. At the age of sixteen, however, he was awarded a scholarship to study in Taiwan. There he learned cinema and became the protégé of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the founding father of the Taiwanese new wave. It was not until ten years later that Midi Z managed to return to Myanmar, where he shot his first film, Return to Burma (2011), with very limited resources and a quasi-autobiographical title. Although he renounced his Burmese nationality that same year in order to obtain Taiwanese citizenship, his films continue to be largely devoted to the Chinese diaspora in Myanmar. 

Midi Z's films play on the proximity between the director and his actors, most of whom are non-professionals. His work thus borders on the documentary, and tackles head-on the social problems of poverty and economic migration that affect part of the population of Myanmar. The title of his second film, Ice Poison (2014), refers to crystal meth, a synthetic drug. The film explores the intersecting destinies of an atypical couple formed by Sun-Mei, who is fleeing an arranged marriage in China, and a former farmer working as a driver. Far from the stereotypes of Hollywood cinema, these two downtrodden individuals find themselves forced into trafficking, and develop a relationship full of subtleties that the director captures with reserve. Ice Poison was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. 

In his documentary City of Jade (2016), Midi Z followed his brother and filmed his work in a jade mine, while 14 Apples (2018) is a portrait of one of his former actors, now engaged in training to become a monk. This approach to reality is also found in Road to Mandalay (2016), where he depicts the adventures of two young Burmese immigrants in Thailand in a naturalistic style. His most recent feature, Nina Wu (2019), marks a real turning point, as the story now takes place in Taipei, where we follow the fate of a young actress who is offered her dream role in a spy film. Ten years after being selected by La Fabrique Cinéma programme with The Road to Mandalay, developed by the Institut français to encourage the emergence of young filmmakers from the Global South on the international market, Midi Z will return as its patron in 2022, supporting other young filmmakers on their journey. 

  • 1982


    Born in Myanmar.

  • 1998


    He obtains a grant that allows him to go to Taiwan to study cinema.

  • 2008


    Ten years after leaving his country, he returns to make his first film, Return to Burma.

  • 2011


    He renounces his Burmese nationality to obtain Taiwanese citizenship.

  • 2016


    The Road to Mandalay, which benefited from the support of La Fabrique Cinéma de l'Institut français, is presented at the Venice Film Festival.

  • 2022


    Patron of La Fabrique Cinéma, as part of the Cannes Film Festival.

The Institut français and Midi Z

Midi Z benefited from the support of La Fabrique Cinéma de l'Institut français in 2012, for The Road to Mandalay, and is this year the patron of this programme, which aims to promote the emergence of young creation from southern countries on the international market. 

La Fabrique Cinéma is developed by the Institut Français with France Médias Monde - RFI, France 24, Monte Carlo Doualiya - the International Organisation of la Francophonie and Sacem. 

Find out more about La Fabrique Cinéma 2022 

L'institut français, LAB